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Contribution of Rural Transport to the 2030 Agenda on Sustainable Development

March 13, 2017, 9:00am-4:30pm
Don Chan Palace HotelVientiane, Laos

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Facilitated By:

The Intergovernmental Tenth Regional Environmentally Sustainable Transport (EST) Forum Asia will take place from March 14 to 16, 2017 in Vientiane, Lao PDR. The Forum, “2030 Road Map for Sustainable Transport - Aligning with Sustainable Development Goals,” is organized by the Ministry of Public Works and Transport, Lao PDR (MPWT), Ministry of the Environment, Japan, the Partnership on Sustainable, Low Carbon Transport (SLoCaT), United Nations Economic and Social Commission of Asia and the Pacific (UN ESCAP), and United Nations Centre for Regional Development (UNCRD) in Vientiane, Lao PDR. It is expected that approximately 500 participants, including senior government representatives from Asia and the Pacific countries, city mayors, international experts and resource persons will be attending the 10th EST Forum.

A pre-event to the 10th EST Forum was co-organized by the Lao PDR MPWT, Research for Community Access Partnership (ReCAP), UNCRD, UNESCAP and facilitated by the SLoCaT Partnership on March 13, 2017. The pre-event, “Contribution of Rural Transport to the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development,” has received more than 100 stakeholders from transport ministries, development agencies, UN organizations, civil society, academia, and private sector from more than 30 different countries.

The pre-event has provided an inclusive and interactive platform for policy-makers and relevant stakeholders in the EST region to exchange information and knowledge on the role of rural transport in the realization of the SDGs under the 2030 Agenda. It also raised awareness on national and multilateral levels in Asia about the role of rural transport research in achieving key development goals in general and the ReCAP program, its research priorities and (preliminary) results and outcomes in specific. A number of presentations have also been made to share lessons learned from rural transport development in Africa to stimulate cross-region learning between Africa and Asia.

A keynote speech by the Vice Minister of MPWT, H.E. Viengsavath Siphandone, emphasized the unique position of rural transport in the 2030 Agenda and explained how rural transport development can contribute directly and indirectly to a number of SDGs in Laos, including SDG 1 to alleviate poverty; SDG 2 to achieve zero hunger and ensure food security; SDG 3 to ensure health and well-being; SDG 4 to provide access to education; SDG 5 to empower women in rural areas; SDG 6 to facilitate access to clean water and sanitation; SDG 8 to promote inclusive growth and economic opportunities; SDG 9 an SDG 11 to contribute to sustainable infrastructure and communities for all; and SDG 13 to increase climate resilience and adaptation in rural areas in the country. The Director of UNCRD, Ms. Chikako Takase, and representative from UNESCAP have highlighted the role of the EST Forum and regional organizations in improving planning and decision-making in the rural transport sector in order to improve access and regional connectivity of the EST region. Representatives from ReCAP have also highlighted the important role of research uptaking and embedment in identifying rural transport challenges and solutions.

A set of key messages underlining the critical role of rural transport to achieve the SDGs were launched at the Pre-event. The messages were developed by the SLoCaT Partnership in the context of a joint project with the UK Aid-funded ReCAP. The key messages include:

  1. Improved Rural Transport Drives Sustainable Rural Development and National Growth: Good rural road infrastructure and services promote connectivity and social cohesion, drives commercial activities as well as accessibility to social and economic facilities necessary to counteract poverty, isolation and social exclusion.
  2. Better Rural Transport is Key for Food Security and Zero Hunger: Improving rural access can lead to lower costs for farm inputs and lower transport costs for marketed outputs, thus increasing agricultural production to enhance food security.
  3. Poor Rural Transport Condemns the Poor to Stay Disconnected and Poor: Access to markets and employment opportunities through better rural transport infrastructure and services is an essential pre-condition to generating rural income and thus reduce poverty.
  4. Additional money AND commitment is needed to build and maintain rural road networks and develop sustainable rural transport services: Existing funding sources need to be expanded and new funding sources need to be developed, piloted and implemented not only for building but also for managing and maintaining the asset.
  5. Better Rural Transport Calls for Local Solutions to Local Problems: Rural access challenges require local resource-based solutions that are compatible with the local road sectors and conditions.

A series of presentations have been made to explore the challenges and provide policy recommendations for rural transport services, including the First Mile Problem, gender mainstreaming, and financing. During a panel discussion on climate adaptation of rural transport infrastructure, speakers and audience have exchanged experiences and questions on the solutions and policy measures to increase resilience, reduce vulnerability, and improve risk and disaster management. In the last plenary session, presentations along with interactive discussions were conducted on how to increase sustainability of rural road networks through engaging local community in rural road maintenance and effective asset management of rural roads.

The pre-event closed with an interactive session in which the audience suggested key themes and topics to be included for a list of key recommendations for policy-makers in the EST region. More than 60 cards have submitted with input covering more than 20 topics in rural transport, such as maintenance, safety, gender, technology, knowledge up-taking and embedding, and private sector empowerment. The pre-event has been a successful, informative, and inclusive platform for policy-makers and relevant stakeholders to exchange case examples, lessons learned, and policy recommendations on how to scale up rural transport development in the context of SDGs implementation.

List of Presentations:

Please see Final Adopted Vientiane Declaration on Sustainable Rural Transport towards Achieving the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

Please see the program here.

For more information on the event, please contact alice.yiu@slocatpartnership.org

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